Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano players hold a banner reading ‘Racists, out of football’ in support of Vinicius Junior at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid on Wednesday; (inset) Real Madrid players wear Vini Junior jerseys before the start of the match. Pics/AFP, Getty Images
Vinicius Junior was not on the field, but his Real Madrid teammates all came out wearing his No. 20 jersey in support of the Brazil forward ahead of the game against Rayo Vallecano in the Spanish League.
He watched from the stands on Wednesday as Brazil teammate Rodrygo celebrated his 89th-minute winner in the 2-1 victory by raising his right fist above his head in a stance against racism.
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Vinicius came out briefly before the match to salute the fans as Madrid players, including those not in the squad for the game, lined up with their backs to the stands, showing Vinicius's jersey, as he watched the match alongside club president Florentino Perez.
In the 20th minute, fans applauded and chanted his name while the Brazilian stood up and saluted back from the VIP section. Outside the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, many fans arrived displaying messages condemning racism and praising Vinicius. Inside, a huge banner was displayed behind one of the goals with the words, "We are all Vinicius. Enough."
As part of a new anti-racism campaign by the Spanish League, the Spanish football federation and the government, a banner with the words "racists out of football" was held by players from both squads before the match.
Slogans against racism were shown during the national and international broadcast of the game. Vinicius, who, on Sunday was subjected to yet another case of racial abuse during a match against Valencia, didn't play because of what the club said was a minor knee problem.
Madrid's women football players and men's basketball players also came out with Vinicius's No. 20 jerseys for their games on Wednesday.
Given the seriousness of the issue, Spanish law and order authorities have swung into action, detaining four men on suspicion of hanging an effigy Vinicius from a bridge.
A Madrid court ruled on Thursday that men, who were detained, were released on bail and banned from coming within 1,000 metres of a La Liga stadium during matches. The dark-skinned inflatable dummy was hung by the neck from a bridge near Real Madrid's training ground several hours before a derby clash with Atletico Madrid on January 26. Meanwhile, Spanish football league president Javier Tebas apologised to Vinicius for his remarks attempting to play down the racism row. Immediately following Sunday's incident, Tebas was critical of Vinicius for attacking the Spanish League, and wrote on Twitter that the Real Madrid star didn't show up for talks on the subject of racism that he himself had requested.
To this, Vinicius had replied: "Instead of criticising racists, the league president shows up on social media to attack me. I'm not your friend to talk about racism with you. I want action and punishment."
On Wednesday, Tebas said: "I was wrong. I have to apologise and ask for forgiveness for that tweet."
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